La Liga champions, with Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League finals on the immediate horizon; FC Barcelona are on the verge of achieving something historic, something unprecedented -- a second treble in six years. Luis Enrique's appointment as head coach might have been a gamble, but it appears as though it has paid off and with presidential elections scheduled for this summer, even the boardroom situation at the club could be headed for a much-needed overhaul.
In short, everything is hunky-dory in FC Barcelona land...or at least it was, until this afternoon.
And then Diario Sport, a Catalan daily no less, decided to spoil the party. How I hear you ask? Well, by publishing a report that claims Marc Bartra could be available for transfer this summer at a cut-price €10 million thanks to the existence of a rather familiar looking clause in his contract.
In essence, the clause focuses on Bartra's game-time, allegedly stipulating that Marc's buyout clause, which was initially set at €25 million, will fall to €10 million as he hasn't featured in enough La Liga matches this season -- a clause which sounds identical to the one that facilitated Thiago Alcantara's transfer to Bayern Munich.
Naturally, anything that reminds us of that incident is sure to be bad news -- but looking at it objectively, does it really matter in this instance? For starters, Bartra has shown no indication that he is unhappy with his playing time at the Camp Nou, and has benefited from an enhanced role in the squad under Enrique. Secondly, the initial clause isn't exactly a great deterrent anyway -- €25 million for a 24 year-old Spanish international defender?
That's probably a bargain too, especially for Europe's elite level clubs, or in fact anyone from the Premier League thanks to the weak exchange rate.
So, on reflection, there's two ways to look at this report and both require the reader to adopt a certain level of cynicism. First, we could say that Bartra, probably via his agent, is looking for contract talks to start and sees this leak as a weapon that will help expedite the process. The second, similar view is that this was planted to ensure that Bartra gets some guarantees about his status in the squad and that all he wants, is some extra game-time. Again, this is a weapon to help achieve that.
The good news is that FC Barcelona can now react, whether that's through offering a new contract, or through offering Marc a greater role in the squad. The bad news is, if Bartra doesn't like the way this develops, there is a very real opportunity that we lose him for a criminal price. Either way, he has all the power -- all we can do is hope that he stays.